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Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:59 pm
by Stephen White
Worth noting that although the kit supplies a MRS mirror and shroud on the end of the barrel, there is no representation of the other end of the system, the light source box on the turret roof. It's quite a simple box and easy to replicate:

IMG_8135 copy.jpg
IMG_8136 copy.jpg

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:03 pm
by Stephen White
The UK National Archives hold a lot of policy documents relating to Chieftain but for anyone researching a specific vehicle, it might be worth having a look at the relevant Unit Historical Record. These replaced the War Diary as the official record of a unit's training and operations. Each one typically covers a year and many have photos attached. If you're struggling to associate a particular ERM with a regiment or vice versa, this might be another source to check. Sadly, the documents aren't online, so a visit to Kew is required but, having done a lot of research there, I can say that consulting a record isn't a big deal. You must apply for a reader's ticket in advance but the rest is pretty straightforward. You can copy records using a camera or document scanning app, as long as you don't use flash. I use an iPhone and an app called Scanner Pro.

The document class is WO305 and within that, the records are classified by unit (ie regiment) and year. (The class is a classification which groups documents of a similar type or from a common source. In the case of WO, the original source was the War Office, subsequently the Ministry of Defence). The coverage isn't comprehensive. I looked up RHG/D for example and drew a blank.

eg 4th Royal Tank Regiment: ... nt&_p=1950

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:04 pm
by John Clarke
Great close up Stephen, Hope there's plenty more where that came from. :D

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:15 pm
by andymusgrove
Thanks Again for the info Stephen, shame RHG/D came up Blank :-(

good info as always thank you


Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 8:25 pm
by Mark Heaps
The removeable plate at the back covered the adjustment screws for the light source to move it horizontally and vertically so that it was the datum point for the sighting system. Once correctly set up and locked, the crew could at any time boresight the vehicle and align the sight to the gun so they were both aiming at the same point. The light source reflected from the MRS mirror, when the gunner depressed the gun to a particular angle, would appear bang in the middle of his aiming point. At any time afterwards during firing or lulls in the battle when the barrel would bend due to warming up and cooling down, the gunner could "MRS", depress the gun to the same point and then align his sight to the light dot to compensate for the changing barrel bend.
Once correctly set, the light source was only adjusted if the barrel and/or MRS Mirror were replaced or the tank failed CABF for the first time.

And after speaking to John Heaps who crewed them for many years, he never saw the channel or rail between the Commanders and Loaders hatches ever used for anything. His understanding was that it was purely a strengthening rib across the turret roof.


Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 3:27 pm
by Stephen White
I now have the Vehicle History Card (DOS Form 419B) for 01FD12 and can document the vehicle's early life and progress through all the modification programmes. This is what I knew from the Merlin Database and other online sources:

Vehicle History

• Built under contract FVP/44/67 between Jan-May 71, batch of 40 Mk 3/S, Serial range 01FD00-01FD39.
• In service as 01FD12: 01 Mar 71
• 4 RTR 29 Aug 86
• 2 Army Del Sqn (Veh Stock) 07 Nov 89
• Vehicle Depot Ludgershall 14 Nov 91
• ABRO Bovington Planned Repair 20 Jan 92
• ABRO Bovington Planned Repair 05 Aug 94
• 2 Army Del Sqn (Veh Stock) Date Not Recorded

Now from the Vehicle Record Card, I can document the full history:

Scan 16 Oct 2019 at 11.32 page 1.jpg
Scan 16 Oct 2019 at 11.32 page 2.jpg

• Built at ROF Leed under contract FVP/44/67 between Jan-May 71, batch of 40 Mk 3/S, Serial range 01FD00-01FD39.
• Date In service as 01FD12: 04 Mar 71 to Central Vehicle Depot Ludgershall
• Left CVD 27 Apr 71, Issued to 1 RTR, BAOR, 10 May 71. At that time, 1 RTR was stationed in Imphal Barracks, Osnabrueck, Westphalia
• Issued to Royal Scots Dragoon Guards 24 Mar 73. This was a handover from 1 RTR to RSDG as part of the Arms Plot rotation of regiments. 01FD12 remained in Imphal Barracks as the new regiment took over.
01 Jan 76 Issued to 2 Armoured Delivery Squadron. 2 ADS was the holding unit for stocks of equipment not issued to front line units and was also responsible for the movement of equipment between units and base workshops in BAOR. It appears in 01FD12's history card 3 times at least.
17 Feb 76 Issued to 2 RTR, stationed in Swinton Barracks, Muenster, just down the road from the previous location in Osnabruck. Also recorded around this time is a change of asset code from GA03002746 to GA 03002771. I've yet to fully decipher the asset codes for Chieftain but their significance is that they represent a significant modification, justifying a new mark number. I suspect that before issue to 2RTR, 01FD12 had been through the TOTEM POLE modification programme at 23 Base Workshops, Wetter, probably for the first stage of the TOTEM POLE programme, the so called Y Mods, which would change the mark number from Mk 3/S to Mk 3/S(Y)2, installing the mounting for the tank laser sight amongst others.

23 Base Workshops.jpg

15 Sep 77 issued to 13th/18th Hussars, stationed in Hohne, Lower Saxony, ) 01FD12's third change of garrison and therefore parent brigade. 13/18H were very soon off on an arms plot move, to be replaced by 14th/20th Hussars, who formally took 01FD12 on charge on 12 Oct 77.
26 May 81 01FD12 reappears on the books of 2ADS implying that in 1980-81, it had been through another base workshops modification programme, probably to complete the TOTEM POLE programme, becoming a Mk 7. The History Card then records another change of Asset Code, on 17 Nov 81, at which point we know it was now a Mk 7/3(C).
14 Dec 81 saw 01FD12 issued to the Royal Hussars in Fallingbostel, just across the other side of the huge NATO Hohne Range complex, moving into the barracks which had held the wartime Panzer Lehr Schule, barracks which echoed the sounds of Tigers and Maybachs.
12 Jul 84 01FD12 issued to the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards/Dragoons, RHG/D), in Detmold, yet another change of location. It's not clear why the move took place but by 1984, Challenger 1 was beginning to appear in BAOR and it may have been a rationalisation of the stocks of remaining Chieftains.
22 Nov 85 back to 2 ADS again. This time the asset code had changed to GA03003088, indicating that it was now a Mk 7/4(C) with the full TOTEM POLE modifications, including IFCS, TLS, fin ammunition, MRS and this is how I remembered the tank because on ....
29 Aug 86 4 RTRtook 01FD12 on charge in Imphal Barracks, Osnabrueck. I had taken D Squadron 4RTR to Northern Ireland for an operational tour in early 1986 and must have returned just as the tank was arriving. It was issued to D Squadron where it became my tank as officer commanding the squadron.

The History Card is silent on when 01FD12 left us but by this time, it was long past its sell-by date, as regiments in BAROR were re-equiping with Challenger 1. 4 RTR was never to get CR1, soldiering on with STILLBREW and TOGS Mks 10 and 11 in BAOR and UK. I was not to serve on Chieftain again, returning to BAOR in 1994 to command 2 RTR, a CR 1 regiment in Fallingbostel, one of 01FD12's previous homes.

01FD12 suffered an ignominious but dramatic fate, being blown up as part of the destruction of equipment mandated under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. It was finally struck off charge 15 Sep 94 after twenty three years and six months of service on the Cold War front line.

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:37 pm
by Stephen White
Let the build begin. Hope this one doesn't take five years but it won't be quick, looking at Chieftain at Bovington today makes you realise how complicated it is.


The hull plate has the characteristic V profile and will need some support on the build table. There are four horizontal jacking plates on the four corners of the original but although I'll replicate them, they won't help with supporting the hull.


The hull plates compare with the Centurion for length but it will be the main armament barrel which adds a huge amount to the overall dimensions.


This model will also be in a class of its own for weight. Good job it will get uprated motors. First two jobs will be to replicate the access plates, jacking plates and drain holes on the hull floor plate and the shell loading door and rubbish ejector on the left hull wall.

It's useful to have a smaller maquette for reference. The Takom 1/35th models are very good but I was suckered into ordering the photo-etch. The detail on these are minute and it's driving me to insanity, if I'm not already there.....


Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:25 pm
by John Clarke
Thanks for the Vehicle History Card data and detailed explanation, a complicated build indeed.
I hope there's more build topic's to help to solve the problems to come, improve. just as the original evolved.
From my own prospective 'I'll be trying to emulate and improve where I can.

The model looks fantastic just in it's original form, so we could see impressive models moving around in very short order.

As Stephen says "Let the builds begin".

"32, Rodger and out"

Errrr, just got to count the nuts and bolts first,,,,,,,,,,,,,, the rivets come later :lol:

"32, Rodger and out"

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:12 pm
by Phil Woollard
That's a lot of info Stephen (and a lot of typing), I did say that without your enthusiasm we would all be stuffed, so I'll keep this request short, would you please consider sharing those belly plate detail dimensions with us? 8)

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:46 pm
by Stephen White
Build begins. First of all, a dry assembly just to set up the hydraulic table (I added a couple of rubber strips to accommodate the V profile of the hull plate). Then I thought I'd attack the fittings, access plates and drain plugs on the bottom before cleaning and priming. There is going to be some work on the geometry of the hull components of which more later. Possibly much later.....

There are four jacking plates on the hull bottom, which are relieved with three ribs and welded to the hull bottom.


Remembering to take account of the 3 deg angle of the bottom plate to the horizontal, a simple milling job:


I'll probably try the new UV glue to fix them rather than faffing around with BA set screws and taps. One set of fittings down, four to go.

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 3:13 pm
by Phil Woollard
Ditto Stephen, I think you ought to screw those Jp's in place as they will get knocked off, and you have made such a good job of them! Mine have no milling I have used screws and washer stacks to get the angle. How have you found the front plate mine had some big tooling dents that needed dressing flat with a dolly and hammer? 8)

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:06 pm
by Stephen White
Couple of tooling dents, Phil, nothing to worry about. Will need a lot of work though to conform to the original.

More progress on the bottom access plates. This is the cover plate which allows access to the fuel and coolant tank drains. It was the least favourite job on the tank to remove. You really had to check all the 1/2 inch bolts were in place or water could enter the engine compartment. I've yet to add the drain plug in the centre of the cover. Like the jack plates, it needed the 3 deg chamfer underneath for the hull V shape.


This was an excuse to test a new bit of kit, a Microfine Senistive Drilling Attachment. I was fed up with breaking very small taps and drill bits. This attachment sits in the spindle of a miil/drill press/lathe and allows you to hand feed the drill/tap. That way, you get much better feedback and minimise the chance of breakages with a machine feed, which is much less sensitive. I was drilling 1.3mm here for 12BA set screws.


Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:16 pm
by Phil Woollard
Umm i like that tool. I would normally expect to break at least one bit every 5 to 6 holes so would order many spares. 8)

Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:21 pm
by Vince Cutajar
Great. Another start of a new build. Where's my popcorn?

Don't have one of those sensitive drill attachments but heard good things about them.


Re: Chinese Eye Chieftain

Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 7:57 pm
by Mark Heaps
Stephen White wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:46 pm

There are four jacking plates on the hull bottom, which are relieved with three ribs and welded to the hull bottom.
The jacking or support plates were not normally used . I only ever saw them used once and that was to support a Challenger 1 on "elefant feet". The vehicle had been stripped of all suspension units to make them available as spares for one of the Gulf Wars. I cannot think of any first line or second line repair which would have required the tank being jacked up at any of those points. All items of the suspension and running gear could be replaced without using them.